DPS Surcharge Amnesty Program How to Lower Your Surcharges

Date December 13, 2010 - By


 

The Beltz Law Firm

214-321-4105

Per the comments in the blog section below, this site has been updated to give you the most recent website link to request and receive amensty for your outstanding surcharges. I want to personally thank everyone who has contributed to the information in this blog. Without your participation and input through the comments below, the following link and information would have come a lot slower than it did. The window for filing is only until April of this year (even though it took them an extra 3 months just to implement the legislation). To fill out the application for amnesty, visit the following site:

 

https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/(S(j33jbx1kpmq4cshk44h5vk1m))/Indigence.aspx

 

DPS as most know now keeps track of every moving violation that goes on your record and assesses points against your driving record for each violation. The more points you get the more exposure you have for license suspensions and penalty fees to keep your license. This has brought about much ire in a State that is already struggling financially to make ends meet. Many of the surcharges go unpaid leaving countless citizens without the ability to drive legally in the State. Because of this backlash the Surcharge program has amended the law for collection of the surcharge fees as outlined below. Please read carefully if you are affected by the surcharge program and are now paying into it to keep your license in good standing with DPS.

§15.163.Amnesty, Incentive and Indigency Programs.

(a) Amnesty program. The department is authorized to provide for a periodic amnesty program under the Driver Responsibility Program, Texas Transportation Code, §708.157(a). Periodic amnesty reductions will be offered at the department’s discretion, and the public will be notified of each amnesty period.

(1) Amnesty will apply to individuals who have been in default for a specified amount of time prior to the announcement of amnesty. The department will determine the amount of time in default for each amnesty period.

(2) To be eligible for the amnesty reduction, each individual will be required to complete an application online at www.txsurchargeonline.com or by telephone at 1-800-688-6882. Each applicant eligible for amnesty will be required to pay 10% of the total amount of surcharges assessed, not to exceed $250.

(3) The total amount is based on all offenses on the driver record at the beginning of each amnesty period, including annual surcharges that have not been assessed for the offenses. If a new offense is reported and a new surcharge assessed after the beginning of the amnesty period, the reduction will not apply to the new surcharge.

(4) Once the department determines the applicant is eligible for amnesty, the department will rescind the suspension of driving privileges for each applicant that receives amnesty.

(5) Payment of the reduced amount must be received by the end of the amnesty period.

(6) A notice will be sent to each applicant receiving amnesty and will provide the last date to pay and the balance due.

(7) If the applicant has made payment(s) prior to approval for the reduced payment, the prior payment(s) will be applied to the reduced payment.

(A) If the prior payment(s) is less than the reduced payment, the driver will be required to pay only the difference.

(B) If prior payment(s) exceeds the reduced payment, the driver will not be required to make a payment. Any prior payments that exceed the reduced payment will not be processed for a refund.

(8) The compensation authorized by Texas Transportation Code, §708.155(c) applies to the reduced payment.

(9) If the reduced payment is received after the end of each amnesty period, the payment will be applied to the oldest outstanding surcharge account(s), and the individual must comply with the original surcharge assessment(s).

(10) An individual will be eligible to receive amnesty only once every three years.

(b) Incentive program. The department is authorized to provide for an incentive program under the Driver Responsibility Program, Texas Transportation Code, §708.157(b). The incentive program is not implemented with the adoption of the rule but will be implemented at the department’s discretion.

(1) The incentive program will consist of two separate programs for reductions. The first program is a one-time reduced payment of all three years of surcharges, and the second program is a reduction of subsequent year(s) of surcharges for maintaining compliance with the prior year(s) surcharge requirement.

(2) For purposes of the incentive program, eligibility is defined as an individual living above 125% of the poverty level as defined annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services but less than 300% of the poverty level. An individual must meet this definition to be eligible for a reduction. The determination of eligibility will be made by the department or its designee.

(3) Each individual assessed a surcharge may make a one-time payment for all three years of surcharges at a reduced amount to receive full compliance with the surcharge requirement.

(A) To request a reduction of the surcharge under this section, an individual assessed a surcharge must submit the department approved application. The application must be completed in full prior to submission. The application is available online at www.txsurchargeonline.com or may be picked up in person at any driver license office.

(B) The applicant may pay 50% of all three years of surcharges assessed for each offense within 30 days of the date of the surcharge notice to receive full compliance.

(C) The applicant may pay 60% of all three years of surcharges assessed for each offense within 60 days of the date of the surcharge notice to receive full compliance.

(D) The applicant may pay 70% of all three years of surcharges assessed for each offense within 90 days of the date of the surcharge notice to receive full compliance.

(E) The compensation authorized by Texas Transportation Code, §708.155(c) applies to the reduced payment.

(4) Each individual assessed a surcharge may receive a reduction on subsequent surcharge assessments for compliance with the annual surcharge. The reduction will be automatic at the time of the annual review of the surcharge.

(A) If the first year surcharge for each offense is paid in full, the second year surcharge will automatically be reduced by 50% of the annual surcharge amount.

(B) If the second year is paid in full, the third year will automatically be reduced by 75% of the annual surcharge amount.

(C) Each annual surcharge must be paid in full prior to the next annual surcharge to receive the reduction.

(D) The compensation authorized by Texas Transportation Code, §708.155(c) applies to the reduced payment.

(c) Indigency program. The department is required to provide for an indigency program under the Driver Responsibility Program, Texas Transportation Code, §708.157(c).

(1) For purposes of the Driver Responsibility Program, indigency is defined as living at or below 125% of the poverty level as defined annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. An individual must meet the definition of indigency to be eligible for a reduction. The determination of indigency will be made by the department or its designee.

(2) To request a reduction of the surcharge under this section, each individual must submit the department approved application. The application must be completed in full and notarized prior to submission. Each applicant eligible for indigency will be required to pay 10% of the total amount of surcharges assessed, not to exceed $250. The application is available online at www.txsurchargeonline.com or may be picked up in person at any driver license office.

(3) The department may contract with a third-party for the verification of the information submitted on the application.

(4) A notice will be sent to each applicant determined eligible for the indigency reduction. The notice will provide the last date to pay and the balance due, and payment of the reduced amount must be received within 180 days from the date of the notice. The indigency period starts on the date of the notice and ends 180 days later.

(5) The total amount is based on all offenses on the driver record at the beginning of the indigency period, including annual surcharges that have not been assessed for the offenses.

(6) During the 180-day payment period, the department will rescind the suspension of driving privileges. If payment of the reduced amount is not received within 180 days, the suspension of driving privileges will be reinstated. The reduced amount will apply until it is paid in full.

(7) If a new offense that results in a surcharge is reported 90 days or more from the notice date, the individual must submit a new application to determine continued eligibility for an indigency reduction. Surcharges due for the new offense reported within 90 days will be included in the total amount of surcharges reduced under paragraph (5) of this subsection. A notice will be sent to the applicant and will provide the last date to pay and the new balance due. Payment for the new balance must be received within the 180-day payment period set out in the original notice.

(8) If the applicant is not eligible for a reduction under this section, a letter of denial will be sent to the individual.

(9) If the applicant has made payment(s) prior to approval for the reduced payment, the prior payment(s) will be applied to the reduced payment.

(A) If the prior payment(s) is less than the reduced payment, the applicant will be required to pay only the difference.

(B) If prior payment(s) exceeds the reduced payment, the applicant will not be required to make a payment. Any prior payments that exceed the reduced payment will not be processed for a refund.

(10) The compensation authorized by Texas Transportation Code, §708.155(c) applies to the reduced payment.

This agency hereby certifies that the adoption has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be a valid exercise of the agency’s legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on October 22, 2010.

TRD-201006032

Duncan R. Fox

Interim General Counsel

Texas Department of Public Safety

Effective date: November 11, 2010

Proposal publication date: August 6, 2010

For further information, please call: (512) 424-5848

CHAPTER 15. DRIVER LICENSE RULES

SUBCHAPTER J. DRIVER RESPONSIBILITY PROGRAM

37 TAC §15.163

The Texas Department of Public Safety (the department) adopts the repeal of §15.163, concerning Amnesty, Incentive and Indigency Programs, without changes to the proposal as published in the August 6, 2010, issue of the Texas Register (35 TexReg 6798).

Adoption of this repeal is necessary in order to simultaneously adopt a new §15.163 which will provide for an added reduction on all surcharges issued prior to the proposed rule providing drivers the ability to comply with the Driver Responsibility law and maintain driving privileges.

No comments were received regarding the adoption of this repeal.

The repeal is adopted pursuant to Texas Government Code, §411.004(3), which authorizes the Public Safety Commission to adopt rules considered necessary for carrying out the department’s work; and Texas Transportation Code, §708.157.

This agency hereby certifies that the adoption has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be a valid exercise of the agency’s legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on October 22, 2010.

TRD-201006031

Duncan R. Fox

Interim General Counsel

Texas Department of Public Safety

Effective date: November 11, 2010

Proposal publication date: August 6, 2010

For further information, please call: (512) 424-5848


37 TAC §15.163

The Texas Department of Public Safety (the department) adopts new §15.163, concerning Amnesty, Incentive and Indigency Programs. New §15.163 is adopted with changes to the proposed text as published in the August 6, 2010, issue of the Texas Register (35 TexReg 6799) and will be republished.

Adoption of this new section provides for an added reduction on all surcharges issued prior to the proposed rule, providing drivers the ability to comply with the Driver Responsibility law and maintain driving privileges. These changes promote the department’s objective of increasing public safety on the roadways by ensuring the license holder remains in compliance with the law and in compliance with the surcharge program.

The department accepted comment on the proposed rule through September 7, 2010. Written comments were submitted by Rep. Lon Burnam, Rep. Ruth McClendon, Denise Rose, J.D. representing Texas Hospital Association, Amanda Marzullo representing Texas Fair Defense Project, John A. Guest representing Teaching Hospitals of Texas, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, and 39 individuals. Changes were made to proposed new §15.163 based on the comments received by the department. Substantive comments received, as well as the department’s responses, thereto, are summarized below:

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(a)(5) and (6), the Teaching Hospitals of Texas recommended adding the ability to pay the reduced surcharge in partial payments during the amnesty period, and to allow for e-mail notifications in lieu of mailing notices to customers.

RESPONSE: The department agrees with these recommendations. The rule states that payment of the reduced amount must be received by the end of the amnesty period. The department will provide information to applicants on the acceptance of payments in any amount during the amnesty period. The department changed the wording in §15.163(a)(6) from “mailed” to “sent”, which is consistent with the indigency program language, to allow for e-mailing notifications to customers.

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(b), the Texas Hospital Association recommended implementation of the incentive program on a specific date, such as April 1, 2011. Rep. Lon Burnam, and The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition recommended the implementation of the incentive program not be left to the department’s discretion.

RESPONSE: The department disagrees with these comments. The proposed language allows the department to implement the incentive program upon completion of the fiscal analysis of the amnesty and indigency programs.

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(b)(2) and (3), the Texas Fair Defense Project recommended relief to other low-income drivers by amending the incentive program to apply to individuals living above 125% but below 300% of the federal poverty guidelines. It further recommended the removal of the reduction for payment of the surcharges in full, and only implementing the reduction of subsequent years for the low-income drivers. They assert that this would allow the department to implement the incentive program immediately, and would not result in the estimated fiscal impact of the proposed incentive program.

RESPONSE: The department agrees with the recommendation for providing an incentive to low-income drivers, and has amended the incentive program by adding the new criterion for eligibility as paragraph (2) of subsection (b) which results in the renumbering of the subsequent paragraphs within subsection (b). The department does not agree with removal of the reduction for payment of surcharges in full, as it provides low-income drivers an additional option for receiving a reduction and complying with all three surcharges immediately.

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(b)(3)(B) – (D), the Texas Hospital Association recommended clarification of the timeframe for payment of a reduced surcharge amount based on the date the individual receives notification that a surcharge is due under the Driver Responsibility Program.

RESPONSE: The department is in agreement with this public comment, and has amended the language to specify the time period begins from the date of the surcharge notice.

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(c), the Teaching Hospitals of Texas submitted a comment supporting the indigency program, and recommended applications be made available online and in all driver license offices.

RESPONSE: The department agrees with the recommendations, and the rule already provides for applications to be available online. The department has added the website address where the application is located online and the department will also make applications available in the driver license offices.

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(c)(1), Rep. Lon Burnam, The Texas Fair Defense Project, and The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition recommended the waiver of the surcharge under the indigency program to be the same as the statutory waiver of surcharges by courts under Texas Transportation Code, §708.158.

RESPONSE: The department is not in agreement with this comment. A waiver of the surcharges is not authorized under Texas Transportation Code, §708.157, therefore the department cannot implement this suggestion.

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(c), Rep. Lon Burnam recommended the reduction of surcharges for individuals living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level and Rep. Ruth McClendon recommended the department define the indigency level as that adopted by the Health and Human Services Commission for Medicaid eligibility rather than 125%.

RESPONSE: The department is not in agreement with these comments. Texas Transportation Code, §708.158, creates an indigency provision administered by the court at the time of disposition for an offense. This indigency provision defines indigency as living at or below 125% of the poverty level, which is consistent with the definition proposed by the department in §15.163(c).

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(c)(1), the Texas Fair Defense Project recommended relief to other low-income drivers be limited to individuals living above 125% but below 300%, or to be based on income alone, rather than individuals with a 50% debt-to-income ratio because this could include individuals whose income is greater than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines.

RESPONSE: The department recognizes that the determination of indigency based on a debt-to-income ratio can have the unintended consequence of offering a reduction to individuals who have the ability to comply, and has amended the indigency program by removing this criterion.

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(c)(2), the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition recommended removing the application notarization requirements to more efficiently serve those eligible and minimize administrative burdens.

RESPONSE: The department is not in agreement with this comment. The use of a sworn affidavit is an accepted practice by state and federal courts. The sworn affidavit eliminates the need for supporting documents with each application, which would require extensive resources to review. Furthermore, it allows for prosecution of individuals who attempt to receive a reduction by submitting a fraudulent application.

COMMENT: Regarding §15.163(c)(7), the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition recommended extending the requirement for new applications to one year to more efficiently serve those eligible and minimize administrative burdens.

RESPONSE: The department is not in agreement with these comments, as an individual’s status as indigent can change. The reapplication process after 90 days reduces the burden on the individual by not requiring a new application for each new surcharge, while still allowing the department to verify that the indigent status has not changed.

Additionally, the department has made the following nonsubstantive changes to §15.163, for the purposes of clarity:

Regarding §15.163(a), the words “amnesty program” have been added at the beginning of the subsection to easily identify the name of the program.

Regarding §15.163(a)(2), the website address and telephone number to complete the application for amnesty have been added to facilitate the application process.

Regarding §15.163(b), the words “incentive program” have been added at the beginning of the subsection to easily identify the name of the program.

Regarding §15.163(b)(3)(A), the website address to obtain an online application and the option to pick up the application at any driver license office has been added to facilitate the application process.

Regarding §15.163(c), the words “indigency program” have been added at the beginning of the subsection to easily identify the name of the program.

Regarding §15.163(c)(2), the website address to obtain an online application and the option to pick up the application at any driver license office has been added to facilitate the application process.

The new section is adopted pursuant to Texas Government Code, §411.004(3), which authorizes the Public Safety Commission to adopt rules considered necessary for carrying out the department’s work; Texas Transportation Code, §708.157(a), which authorizes the department to establish a periodic amnesty program for holders of a driver’s license on which a surcharge has been assessed for certain offenses; Texas Transportation Code, §708.157(b), which authorizes the department to establish an incentive program for holders of a driver’s license on which a surcharge has been assessed for certain offenses; and Texas Transportation Code, §708.157(c), which requires the department to establish an indigency program for holders of a driver’s license on which a surcharge has been assessed for certain offenses.


16 Responses to “DPS Surcharge Amnesty Program How to Lower Your Surcharges”

  1. The Beltz Law Firm said:

    You must apply for indegency from the court where the convictions were entered. We have not had the opportunity to do this for clients because of the fee we require to file the motions. Its kind of hard to come up with money for motion when you are requesting indegency status right? However, the motion you must file does not have to be fancy. Simply file it in the court requesting indegency status for your surcharges. Attach proof of income tax forms, government assistance, etc. Once indegency is granted, then send the documents to DPS to have the surcharges removed.

  2. jorge said:

    Jorge sent in a letter for an application for ammnesty for his drivers license
    Thank You very much JR

  3. Jeffrey Beltz said:

    The amensty application can be found online at: https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/(S(ce0wwhikitwtfpgv5l2j0fuu))/AmnestyOptin.aspx

  4. Jennifer Nell Montgomery said:

    I am on ssi and need help paying surcharges!!

  5. Jeffrey Beltz said:

    Link to request indigency: https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/(S(j33jbx1kpmq4cshk44h5vk1m))/IndigencyAffidavit-%20English.PDF

    General Overview -The Texas legislature authorized the Indigency program to provide drivers the ability to comply with surcharges owed under the Driver Responsibility program and maintain driving privileges. The surcharges are not waived under this program, but are reduced.

    The Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) objective for the Indigency program is to increase public safety on the roadways by ensuring drivers can become licensed and obtain financial liability insurance.

    The DPS Indigency program will apply to individuals living at or below 125% of the federal poverty level as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services. Individuals may apply by completing, signing, and having notarized an affidavit.

    If an individual qualifies for Indigency, it will reduce the surcharge amount owed to 10% of the total, not to exceed $250 (service fees will still apply). It will also remove suspension of driving privileges for those who qualify for the program while making payments (assuming no other restrictions are on file with DPS).

    Any surcharge assessed on or after September 30, 2004 is eligible for reductions under the Indigency program provided your application is approved.

  6. Jeffrey Beltz said:

    PLEASE NOTE: While you are waiting on approval of your Indigence application, you must continue to remit at least the minimum monthly payment for all of your outstanding surcharge accounts by the due dates in order to remove any existing suspensions. Failure to remit payments on time for your surcharge will result in the suspension of your driving privileges.

    Supporting Documents – Applicants must provide supporting documentation based on answers to the questions on the Indigency application. Falsified applications may result in criminal charges and prosecution.

    Some examples of supporting documents:
    •A 1040 for the prior tax year and include any 1099 forms related to the 1040
    •The most recent two (2) months’ bank statements
    •The most recent two (2) paycheck stubs from all employers
    •Unemployment claims of payment or denial letter for the previous months
    •Social Security Supplemental Income receipts for the previous months
    •Any other documentation related to income which was listed on the Indigency application.
    •Evidence of dependents if not listed on the previous documents.

  7. Jeffrey Beltz said:

    Approval-A notice will be sent to each applicant who qualifies for the Indigency reduction. The notice will provide the due date and the reduced balance owed.

    Denial-If an application is denied, a letter of denial will be sent to the individual at the address listed on the most recent surcharge account.

    Payment-The payment must be received by the due date or driving privileges will be suspended. If new surcharges are assessed within 90 days of approval for Indigency, those surcharges will be reduced and a letter will be sent to the individual with the new balance due. That new balance must still be paid by the original due date.

    New Surcharges-If a surcharge is assessed 90 days or more from the date of Indigency approval (as listed on the approval letter), you will be required submit a new Indigency application for that surcharge. You will receive a notice of approval or denial.

    Example of Poverty level as per the Health and Human Services Department:

  8. doniell said:

    Is there another amnesty period coming up because I my indigency application was denied?

  9. Jeffrey Beltz said:

    Regretfully, there is probably a better chance of the surcharge program ending completely before an amnesty program is re-enacted. Its surprising to hear that the application was denied. Normally, the are accepted unless you make two to three times the minimum annual salary. Perhaps you should re-apply and provide better financial information.

  10. jerry said:

    Ive been hit with surcharges and. My licence suspended. Over aa 10
    Year old ticket according to DPS they were. Just notified last year the
    Ticket was reportes last yea r dated 11-2-04. What is this is it legal.
    My Wife is disabled and I am the only driver my son is 6 and I must Drive Jim to and from
    School as well as tale my wife to her med appts what can i do i cant afford this!!pla z Help

  11. jerry said:

    Pss wife is disabled veteran has seizures

  12. Josh Demidio said:

    I got a Dwi for prescription medicine, I didnt get pulled over or get into a wreck. I was getting on the shoulder about to turn and when I hit my brakes about to turn. the shoulder hAD LOOSE GRAVEL ON IT AND MY BRAKES LOCKED UP AND I SLIDE INTO A DITCH . I WAS ONLY GOING APPROXAMATELY 15 MILES PER HOUR WHEN I HIT MY BRAKE AND SLIDE INTO THE DITCH. THERE WAS I PIECE OF REBAR DROVE IN THE GROUND AND WHEN I WENT IN TO THE DITCH IT HIT MY AIR BAG SENSOR CAUSING IT TO DEPLOY. THERE WAS NO DAMAGE TO THE CAR AND I WAS NOT HURT BUT THE COP THAT SHOWED UP ON THE SEEN MADE ME GO TO THE HOSPITAL. THE Y DREW BLOOD FROM ME TO MAKE SURE I HAVNT BEEN DRINKING. IT CAME BACK NEGATIVE BUT I HAD ONE PRESCRIPTION PILL IN MY SYSTEM SO THEY CHARGED ME WITH DWI. SO NOW THEIR SAYING IT WAS AN ALCOHOL RELATED DWI WHEN IT WASNT AND THEY ARE TRYNING TO MAKE ME TAKE A REPEAT OFFENDERS CLASS AND GET AN SR 222 AND ALOT MORE WHEN ALL I NEED IS FOR SOMEONE TO SEND A CORRECTION FORM STATING THAT IT WASNT AN ALCOHOL DWI THAT IT WAS A PILL IN MY SYSTEM AND I COULD GET ALL OF THOSE DROPED AND BE ABLE TO DRIVE AGAIN BUT HOPKINS COUNTY KEEPS REFUSING TO SEND A CORRECTION FORM TO AUSTIN. AND THE DPS IN AUSTIN SAID IT THEY SENT THAT FORM ALL THE ALCOHOL RELATED THINGS WOULD BE DROPED AND I COULD DRIVE AGAIN WITHOUT HAVING TO TAKE A CLASS OR GET A SR22 PLEASE HELP ME. I CANT SURVIVE WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO DRIVE BECAUSE I CANT GET A JOB. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND GOD BLESS

  13. Josh Demidio said:

    PLKEASE HELP ME GET MY FORMS CORRECTED

  14. Josh Demidio said:

    THANK YOU

  15. Mike said:

    How do I get tax forms and recent paycheck stubs if I haven’t worked the past 2 years? ive been living in my car the past year, how can I provide documents of where I live when I live in my car?

  16. patrick holley said:

    hi im patrick and im paying probation and surcharges and stop drinking complying with the stimulations ove the law im trying got a job paying surcharges, im in a finacial dept im having to help my grandma i would like a surcharge reduction ive changed my life around through your probation program. thank you

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